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Saturday, 3 December 2016 | MYT 10:31 PM

Asean must do more to address Rohingya issue, says expert

Myanmar Rohingya refugees look on in a refugee camp in Teknaf, in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, on Nov 26, 2016. - AFP.

Myanmar Rohingya refugees look on in a refugee camp in Teknaf, in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, on Nov 26, 2016. - AFP.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia cannot go it alone in solving the Rohingya issue in Myanmar, said an expert on international relations.

“The other members of Asean should also do it. They need to corner Myanmar … Asean needs to do more,” said University Malaya lecturer Dr Jatswan Singh at a forum on the plight of the Rohingya recently.

Dr Jatswan who is with the Department of International and Strategic Studies said another way Malaysia could help was by offering assistance to the Rohingya.

“We are talking about a situation where people are in dire need of basic necessities. The first step would be to alleviate their suffering,” he said.

He added that Asean did a fantastic job in assisting Myanmar during the 2008 Cyclone Narqis and should come up with something concrete in the case of the Rohingya.

“First and foremost, they have to look at the situation and try to alleviate the sufferings of all the people in the state.

“Not only the Rohingya. Out of goodwill, aid has to be extended to both communities to show that there a lot of good people out there. To change the perception of the ultra nationalists, that Asean is with you,” he said.

He added that there should be a move to bring the issue to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He said the last time there were attempts to bring the issue to the ICC in 2010, it got the support of only 16 countries. However, this was enough to put pressure on the Myanmar government.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that he would attend a solidarity rally for the Rohingya despite protests from the Myanmar government.

Violence in the past few weeks against the Rohingya has resulted in at least 86 people being killed and with more than 30,000 displaced. Many have tried fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Myanmar troops poured into the western state of Rakhine in response to coordinated attacks on three border posts on Oct 9 that killed nine police officers.

Human rights groups have accused the military and border guard forces of raping Rohingya women, torching houses and killing civilians, although this has been denied by the Myanmar government and military.

Considered to be stateless and often subjected to arbitrary violence and forced labour in Myanmar, the Rohingya are considered by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

As of October this year, there are 54,586 Rohingya refugees registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia, although unofficial estimates put the number at three times as high.

Tags / Keywords: Rohingya , Myanmar , Asean

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